LOCAL party chiefs were each claiming success following last Thursday's council elections.

Chorley's Labour supporters were smiling after their party walked away from the fight virtually unscathed.

Chorley Conservatives were happy, too, claiming they had got what they came for. Their three gained seats put them back as the opposition party in Chorley.

Local Liberal Democrats were smiling, though they remain with six seats.

Labour lost two seats - one to the Conservatives and one to the Lib Dems - on a night when regional and nationally the Tories staged something of a recovery after their landslide defeat at the 1997 General Election.

There were 16 seats up for grabs at the council elections in Chorley this time.

Of the 48 seats on the council, Labour held 33, the Liberal Democrats six, the Conservatives six, Independents two and Independent Labour one.

After the skirmish, the council stood at Labour 33, Conservatives nine, Lib Dems six and Independents two.

Independent Labour councillor David Heyes crashed out to the Conservatives' Helen Sutton in Lostock ward.

Returned All the Labour candidates up for re-election were returned - Florence Molyneaux in Adlington, Barry Hodson (Chorley East), Adrian Lowe (Chorley North East), Steve Holgate (Chorley South East), Tom McGowan (Chorley South West), Tony Gee (Chorley West), Thomas Titherington (Eccleston and Heskin) and Kerry Jones (Withnell).

Labour's Jean Cronshaw, who previously held Clayton-le-Woods West and Cuerden, went down to the Lib Dems' Stephen Fenn after standing in Clayton-le-Woods East.

But Labour held on to Clayton-le-Woods West and Cuerden through Lesley Brownlee.

By far the closest victory of the night was that of Conservative Geoffrey Russell who beat Labour's John Cocking by just 11 votes in Euxton South.

The Conservatives also took Whittle-le-Woods, a seat previously held by Lib Dem, Pat Lavender - this time won by Margaret Ward, from Labour's Steven Turner and Lib Dem Stuart Harding.

Lib Dem deputy leader, Derek Holland, safely held on to his Coppull South seat, while colleague Patricia Cuerden was victorious in Coppull North, a seat previously held by Labour's Neil Hilton, this time contested by John Murphy.

The turn-outs were low - the highest being 40 per cent in Withnell and the lowest just under 20 per cent in Chorley South West.

Coun Jack Wilson, leader of Chorley Borough Council, admitted he thought the Conservatives would have made more in-roads in Chorley.

He said the following day: "I can't believe how well we've done. We won those seats at the height of the Poll Tax and last night we lost one of those seats to the Conservatives - and lost another to the Liberal Democrats in Coppull.

"We started the night with 33 and ended with 31 and we did better than our expectations, and I believe it is an endorsement from the people of Chorley for Labour's progressive policies."

Of the Euxton South defeat of John Cocking by Conservative Graham Russell, Mr Wilson said: "We are absolutely disappointed. We thought we had worked hard enough with an excellent candidate to have held Euxton South and to lose by 11 votes under those circumstances was a bitter pill to swallow, but we will re-group."

Conservative leader Eric Bell rejected Councillor Wilson's comments, saying: "We got what we wanted. We targeted five seats and we got three.

"We feel what we have done this year is a real platform for next year. We feel we are in a strong position to get more next year. "We feel we are on the way up. People are turning out for us, but they still need that pushing. People are coming back, but there's still a lot of apathy."

Councillor Ken Ball, deputy leader of the Lib Dems, said his party was "chuffed" with its achievements.

He commented: "We're very well pleased. We are glad we held on to Steve Charlesworth's old place which was down to all the hard work Steve put in there.

"In Coppull, where we fought the election on local issues only, we increased Derek's majority to 500. And Pat Cuerden got a majority of about 200.

"That's the two ward councillors we have got in there now and we took them off Labour.

Results in full:

Adlington: Florence Molyneaux (Lab) 698 votes, Raymond Ormston (LD) 273, 22.5 per cent turn-out.

Chorley East: Erik Baxendale (Con) 204, Barry Hodson Lab) 627. 20.27 per cent.

Chorley North East: Glenda Charlesworth (LD) 81, Colin Goldsby (Con) 224, Adrian Lowe (Lab) 610. 21.91 per cent.

Chorley South East: Steve Holgate (Lab) 646, David Porter (LD) 79, Robert Tyler (Con) 355. 26.9.

Chorley South West: Peter Malpas (Con) 268, Tom McGowan (Lab) 776.


Chorley West: Tony Gee (Lab) 720, Rosalie Goldsby (Con) 257, Mavis Porter (LD) 173. 27.68.

Clayton-le-Woods East: Jean Cronshaw (Lab) 402, Stephen Fenn (LD) 1010, Roger Livesey (Con) 696. 27.74.

Clayton-le-Woods West and Cuerden: Lesley Brownlee (Lab) 528, Gail Ormston (LD) 193, John Walker (Con) 419. 35.96.

Coppull North: Pat Cuerden (LD) 533, John Murphy (Lab) 345. 31.02.

Coppull South: Derek Holland (LD) 764, Christopher McMullan (Ind) 54, Hilary Thompson (Lab) 262. 36.02.

Eccleston and Heskin: Tom Titherington (Lab) 946, Brian Twist (Con) 636. 37.00.

Euxton North: Peter Goldsworthy (Con) 358, Thomas Gray (Lab) 503, Pauline Sharp (LD) 46. 30.80.

Euxton South: John Cocking (Lab) 497, Linda Norman (LD) 101, Geoffrey Russell (Con) 508. 33.24.

Lostock: James Freeman (Lab) 304, David Heyes (Ind Lab) 145, William Mellor (LD) 53, Helen Sutton (Con) 590. 33.45.

Whittle-le-Woods: Stuart Harding (LD) 140, Steven Turner (Lab) 263, Margaret Ward (Con) 622. 31.59.

Withnell: Kerry Jones (Lab) 595, Iris Smith (Con) 555. 40.29. Results in full:

Converted for the new archive on 14 July 2000. Some images and formatting may have been lost in the conversion.